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What Is an Aerospace Engineer and How to Become One

What Do Aerospace Engineers Do?

Aerospace Engineers manufacture and design aircraft, satellites, missiles, aeronautical and astronautical products and technologies for development, research, defense, and commercial use. They document and evaluate the production of aircraft and aircraft technologies, including commercial and military airplanes, propulsion systems, navigation systems, instrumentation, communication, and thermodynamic and aerodynamic materials used in flight. Aerospace Engineers use highly complex computer systems and software to model, design, evaluate, and simulate parts, products, and vehicles in order to determine if proposals are financially feasible and whether designs will meet regulatory and safety standards. They confer with each other on large-scale projects that require group input, completing a multitude of tasks on a single project through the shared duties of many engineers.

How to Become an Aerospace Engineer

In order to become an Aerospace Engineer, you need to be highly proficient in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and any other STEM-related fields of study. You’ll need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or another related field. Some of the top schools offering undergrad degrees in this area of study include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Georgia Institute of Technology. Some employers may prefer that you possess a master’s degree in engineering or science, but it’s not typically necessary for entry-level positions in the field. Similarly, it’s not always required that you have a state-approved engineering license but earning one will help you advance in your career and become a professional engineer.

What Is Spacecraft Engineering?

Spacecraft engineering is the research, development, design, and manufacture of vessels that travel within the outermost layers of atmospheric Earth, and beyond to outer space. Spacecraft engineering depends on an entirely different set of design and programming practices than aeronautical aircraft due to the enormous spectrum of changes in space physics and energy propulsion inside and outside Earth’s atmosphere.

What Do Aerospace Engineers Do at NASA?

Aerospace Engineers at NASA are astronautical manufacturers, programmers, designers, researchers and developers of practical technologies and theoretical experiments. They produce hardware and software required for testing and running the full range of spacecraft flight systems inside and outside the atmosphere.

Aerospace Engineer Job Description Sample

With this Aerospace Engineer job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Aerospace Engineer role.

Job Summary

We are looking for an experienced and dedicated aerospace engineer to join our organization. The aerospace engineer will be responsible for designing, testing, manufacturing, and implementing new aircrafts, aerospace parts, and satellites. The ideal candidate will be a technically minded problem-solver, eager to use their mathematical and scientific abilities to build and solve air and space designs. The aerospace engineer will be responsible for troubleshooting existing aircraft malfunctions, analyzing aircraft structure for damage and potential malfunctions, and creating prototype models for testing.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Develop and implement designs for aircraft manufacturing
  • Create prototypes, models, and computerized images for design
  • Perform mathematical equations for proposed flight dynamics
  • Ensure safety of designs by conducting tests with models and computer simulations
  • Define the blueprints and manufacture plans for aircraft and aerospace designs
  • Design a variety of aerospace parts to improve aircrafts
  • Determine costs and expenditures for financial budget
  • Collaborate with other teams to determine if designs meet customer needs
  • Establish timelines and work processes for finished product
  • Follow all set quality standards and engineering principles and best practices
  • Analyze design and finished product for malfunctions during tests
  • Direct instructions for manuals, assembly instructions, and troubleshooting

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering, engineering, or related field; Master's degree in aerospace engineering preferred
  • Five (5) years' previous experience as an aerospace engineer
  • Professional Engineering (PE) license a plus
  • Superior design and computer skills to create models and simulations
  • Creative problem solver who thrives when presented with a challenge
  • Able to analyze problems and strategize for better solutions
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • In-depth understanding of the aerospace engineering principles
  • Team player who works well when presented with new ideas and challenges
  • Solid understanding of complex mathematical analysis for design and troubleshooting
  • Excellent analytical and time-management skills
  • Highly organized and pays strict attention to detail
  • Strong problem-solving skills to identify malfunctions and sources and test solutions